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2008 NCAA Tournament Blog

Follow the Washington State Cougars as they participate in their second straight NCAA Tournament! Questions or comments? Please direct them to Jason Krump, Communications Coordinator, Washington State University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, at athleticinfo@wsu.edu.

March 28, 2008

Once again, I apologize for the lateness of this post; it has been a loooong day of traveling.

You may be wondering where are the photos from last night's game? Because of the late ending of the game and the early departure time, Bob Hubner was still working on getting all the photos formatted. Here are a few but I will be posting a gallery from the entire two week NCAA journey on the web in the near future so keep an eye out for it.




We departed Charlotte at about 10:30 Eastern Time this morning, and arrived at Pullman around 2:30 p.m. The Cougars were greeted with a great fan reception at Beasley upon their arrival.

That greeting was just another in a long line of examples of how the fans came out to support the Cougars, not only through their NCAA run, but the entire season. On behalf of the coaches, players, and the entire athletic department, thank you for all of your support. It was critical in the success of the team.

This will be the final post for this NCAA blog, but it won't be the end of the blog. Over the past two weeks, I have found this to an effective way to communicate with you, fans of Cougar Athletics; therefore, I have decided to continue the blog, this time with an emphasis on Cougar Athletics in its entirety. After taking a short break I will be starting this up so stay tuned.

Finally, thank you for your readership of this blog. Judging from the e-mails I received it was a big hit with you. I greatly appreciate your readership and for visiting our site.

See you soon and Go Cougs!

March 27, 2008

11:35 p.m.

Following are some player quotes:

Derrick Low

On the game: "Offensively I thought I got all the looks I wanted, and it was just hard to get it to drop. In most games, my team would be making shots. But tonight it just didn't fall. Sometimes you have those nights."

On his last game: "It was hard. It made me reminisce to the beginning. Injuries, and being last in the Pac-10, no one believed in us. Even though we lost, I want to thank Washington State for giving us a chance and believing in us."

Kyle Weaver

On shooting: "It was freezing out there. I thought we got a lot of good looks. We drove and kicked a few times, and it just didn't go in today."

On his last game: "It's hard right after you lose a game like that. To get where we are now, from being last in the Pac-10. It is pretty satisfying to look at it from a big picture. I think we could look back at this and say we left a mark at Washington State."

Robbie Cowgill

On the game: "They're a good team. It's kind of another level with a team like that. They're physical and they got down on us sometimes in transition. I think we had some breakdowns defensively in the first half-I did myself. It seemed like we were getting the shots we wanted, they just weren't going in."

11:25 p.m.

Following are some quick quotes from Tony Bennett:

"That was not the way we wanted to go out, but I told the guys in the locker room what a run for their careers; these two seniors (Low and Weaver) especially, and I'm thankful for that."

"We played a heck of a team; they exploited our weaknesses and we'll learn from it."

"I want to talk about our seniors. These guys came in when nobody wanted to give us the time of day, and I'm thankful for that."

"It was hard out there. I'm disappointed because we're better than what we showed."

"Transition defense has been our strength; it was our strength against Winthrop and Notre Dame. We made them shoot 43 percent as a team, but they keep coming at you. UNC is a special team. Their defense is better than people think."

On the seniors: "I'm going to miss them a lot. They're like family. We took a chance on them, but they took a chance on us. They can play. A lot has been asked of them, and they responded. They're the foundation of us. They'll be remembered forever in Pullman, Washington."

11:10 p.m.

Sorry for the lateness of getting these photos posted. I was having problems accessing the web at the arena so I am back at the hotel. Anyway, here are photos of Tony, Derrick and Kyle from the postgame news conference.




9:15 p.m.

I'll have some postgame duties to attend to, but be sure to check back later for photos and quotes from the game. I'll get them posted as soon as I can.

9:05 p.m.

Despite the score, the enthusiasm shown by the Cougar fans has not subsided. They stood up and gave a loud cheer for the team coming out of the most recent timeout and have been vocal throughout the second half.

8:45 p.m.

The shooting struggles continue. In the second half we are 2-of-9. For the game, 11-of-35 (31.4 percent).

8:30 p.m.

If you had said we would hold UNC to 35 points in the first half, I would have taken it. The problem is we have been unable to make our shots. When the game was tied at 10, UNC was shooting 4-of-13 from the field while WSU was 5-of-11. Since then, the Tar Hills have made nine of their last 14 shots while we have hit four of our last 15.

8 p.m.

Until recently, I didn't sense quite the NC home-court advantage I thought I would. I think alot of that has to do with how loud and vocal our fans have been. At the last media, both team were shooting an identical 7-of-18, by the way.

7:45 p.m.

At the 12-minute media timeout tied at 10. We are playing right with them. The Cougar fans are chanting "Let's Go Cougars" during the break.

7:24 p.m.

The arena is still filling up. There are two open sections in the lower bowl area, they are where the Tennesse and Louisville fans will be sitting. The Cougars just made their way out on the court to a loud ovation from the Cougar Faithful. The Tar Heels followed. Their ovation was louder, but then again, they have 10 times (at least) the fans we have inside this place. By the way, as the lower seed the Cougars will be wearing their road crimson jerseys. As the higher seed, North Carolina will be wearing its home whites. Starting line-ups will be annouced shortly.

7:10 p.m.

Here's a picture of Cougar Nation at the Bobcat Arena.


7 p.m.

I did say unless things changed. Well, they changed.

They didn't change as much as I was mistaken. CBS has phones on either side of press row, so I will be manning the phone behind our bench. Much better for me.

The arena is filling up and there is a lot, and I mean a lot, of powder blue in here. However, the side directly opposite our bench is filled with crimson.

Quite a contrast going on.

6:20 p.m.

The teams just arrived a few minutes ago. Here is a picture from WSU's arrival.


5:30 p.m.

I'm in the arena at the Sweet Sixteen drinking my sweet tea. Sweet!

On my way to the arena, I stopped by the alumni pregame rally, which is currently going on at a nearby pizza establishment. I've included a photo of the outside. There are twice as many people on the inside. Great turnout.

Unless something changes I'll be sitting behind the North Carolina bench. I went out just a few minutes ago to take a picture of the court from the perspective of where I will be sitting.

Less than two hours until tip.



11 a.m.

Good Thursday morning Cougars.

Can we play the game already? Waiting for tip, which is still hours away, is killing me.

It probably is for you too. So to pass the time here a few links that will hopefully help you get through the waiting.

First of all, congratulations to Robbie Cowgill, Daven Harmeling, Taylor Rochestie, Aron Baynes and Nikola Koprivica. They have been named to the 2008 Pacific-10 Men's Basketball All-Academic Team. Check out the STORY for more details.

Even before the Cougars earned a spot to the Sweet Sixteen, this season already was historic for the program. Find out why HERE

Finally, the teams for the NCAA Women's Basketball Spokane Regional is set: Maryland, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Pittsburgh. The regional tips off, Saturday. Get all the information you need about the regional at our TOURNAMENT CENTRAL page.

Hope that helps. I'll check in when I arrive at the arena.

March 26, 2008

6 p.m.

Good evening (or good afternoon depending where you are at). After a busy day at the Charlotte Bobcat Arena, I thought I would give a non-basketball themed entry.

But first, just to tie a ribbon around the basketball team's activities today, the team held a practice at a local university this afternoon. I'm told that the coaches wanted to practice later in the day in order to get the players better acclimated to the three-hour time difference here in North Carolina.

Since I devoted a portion of last week's entries from Denver to the media buffet, some of you may be wondering what was served today. (Then again, there may be a lot of you who couldn't care less.)

Today, the standard hot dogs and hamburgers were on the menu; however, one of the beverages was sweet tea. Now, I was introduced to this tasty drink that is a southern staple last night at the restaurant we ate at. If you have never had sweet tea, consider it ice tea on steroids. It's basically half tea and half sugar. They were serving it at the buffet and something tells me I may need to see my dentist when this is all over.

By the way, in a coincidence, after playing at Denver's Pepsi Center last week, I am told that North Carolina is the birthplace of Pepsi; yet, as I mentioned last week, they only serve Coke at NCAA events. But I digress.


On the way back from the arena I took some PHOTOS of the outside of the Bobcat Center (shown) as well as downtown Charlotte. Hopefully, this will give you a sense of where we are at.

Tomorrow will be a "hurry up and wait" type of day until the 7:27 p.m. local time tip-off, but I will have an entry prior to that time.

Until then, have a great evening and Go Cougs!

4:10 p.m.

Here is a PHOTO GALLERY of Bob Hubner `s work taken today. I've posted a couple just to tease you and make sure you check it out:



3:30 p.m.

Following are some players' quotes from earlier today:

Taylor Rochestie
About playing North Carolina in its home state: "It is a situation where they deserve it. They are the No. 1 team in the entire tournament. We have had an `us vs. the world' mentality and that's the way we will have to approach it."

On any motivation from last year's defeat in the tournament carrying over to this season: "I think it is just the personnel we have this year. In the preseason, in the workouts and the weight room, we tried to motivate each other and hold each other accountable."

Aron Baynes
About playing North Carolina in its home state: "I don't know how much of an advantage it is. I think our road record this year was better than our home record."

On hearing about North Carolina in Australia: "Carolina is one of the only teams you hear about back home. I definitely know a lot more about them growing up than some of the others."

Kyle Weaver
On slowing North Carolina down: "We have to get back in transition. We would like to slow it down and get set in our offense. We can't let them control tempo ... whether that means it's getting back on defense, trapping the post, whatever we can do to make it tough for those guys."

Derrick Low
On the team's progress since he arrived at WSU: "We've made a lot of progress. From being last in the Pac-10 and being doormats to back-to-back 20 win seasons. We take a lot of pride in that. We had to go through a lot of ups and downs. We all persevered and the hard work paid off."

3:20 p.m.

I was wondering why there were North Carolina fans showing up to our practice, which began at noon. Initially, I thought they just wanted to get a glimpse of the Tar Heels' opponent. Boy, was I wrong. There were showing up early to get a good seat for North Carolina's practice, which just concluded. I've never seen that many people fill an arena, for a practice. I hope this photo conveys what I mean.


3:05 p.m.

Here is a PHOTO GALLERY of the pictures I took earlier today. An explanation about the player interview photos. The Cougars' locker room was small, very small. So small in fact that it wasn't large enough to accommodate the large media contingent (you'll see what I mean by the photos) so some interviews had to be conducted in the adjacent hallway.

2:10 p.m.

Tony Bennett quotes from his news conference today:

On North Carolina: "Playing against a team with this kind of talent-I think this what our guys wanted. We get to find out tomorrow if we're ready."

On taking this team to the Tournament: "Maybe WSU doesn't have the tradition of some of the schools in the NCAA Tournament, but I think I've sold guys on that if you play good basketball, it doesn't matter, you will have the chance to compete and have a chance as a player and as a team. My days in Charlotte (for the Hornets) taught me that. "

On their system: "My father instilled it when he took the job at WSU. His style is a system that gives you a chance to compete against the best. We can't always recruit against the upper echelon teams. Our system gives us a chance when we play together. The key is to be solid - trying to be solid as we can in the half-court defensive. Be sound and not turn the ball over. Make the other team work to get contested shots and for us to get good shots. Get back and defense set will be the greatest challenge to try to handle the pressure to play the elite teams."

On calling their style boring: "Call it what you want; we have to find ways to be successful. We don't fly up and down; we take advantages when we can."

On recruiting: "When we took over at WSU, there wasn't much there. Our guys weren't recruited even by mid-major programs. Because of last year's success, we were able to recruit more kids with better ratings. So much of recruiting is the relationship with the teammates and head coach. I think we have a great system in place. Look at your personnel and say `what ways can we play and be successful with what we have.' Pullman is a unique place, but it is a wonderful place."

On slowing down North Carolina: "You have to get back. You have to take care of the basketball. When you turn the ball over against them, they get down before you can get back. Kids have the freedom to make plays and take advantage of the opportunities. Patient sound and aggressive; if you become hesitant, then you can get in trouble. The offense can dictate how well you can defend."

1 p.m.

WSU just ended practice. Here are a couple of more photos. One is the huddle to conclude practice; the other is Tony talking with Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas, the CBS broadcasters for the game. WSU will be conducting its news conferences shortly.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12:40 p.m.

The Cougars are currently going through their practice session. Here a few photos:


 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, be sure to check out Jessica Schmick's WEEKLY RELEASE for all the information you need on the Cougars leading up to tomorrow's game.

This will be the first of many posts today so stay tuned.

March 25, 2008

11:40 p.m.

Good evening. Or is it good night? Or good nearly morning? What time is it?

It is approaching the midnight hour in Charlotte but it is only 9 p.m. Pacific. I'm losing track of time criss-crossing the country. Sorry for the lateness of this entry, but after checking in to the hotel it was off to dinner. I'll be honest, I have no idea where the players ate dinner, but the place I went to, Merts, was terrific. I will even go as far as to say it was better than the media buffet at the Pepsi Center. Tonight the menu included fried catfish, green beans, mac and cheese and sweet tea.

I may have to visit our athletic trainer later to see if he brought the paddles, because I'm sure my cholesterol level has shot up in the last couple hours.

(By the way, our associate director of athletics for compliance, Steve Robertello, who ate with us, just dropped by and said he is having a heart attack. I may have to end this entry early to seek medical attention for him.)

Enough about food, what about basketball? The team practiced at Beasley this morning before bussing down to Lewiston for the charter. The team received a nice greeting at the airport as papers were taped to the entry door that said among other things, "Go Cougs." Here is a picture of what I mean:


I also took a photo of the Derrick, Taylor and Robbie walking up to the plane:


On the three and a half hour flight to Charlotte (we caught a nice tailwind, which made the trip shorter than we thought it would be) the travel party passed the time listening to music, watching DVDs or just catching up on some sleep. Near the end, the flight attendants took advantage of the opportunity to be around a Sweet Sixteen team and got their picture taken with a few of the players. The sun had not set yet when we landed at 7 p.m.

Tomorrow will be a busy day as we will get our first look at the Charlotte Bobcat Arena. Be sure to drop by as I will be posting photos from the practice and media sessions.

Good night...or good morning? Whatever it is, I'll see you soon.

7:45 a.m.

Before we head to Charlotte, I thought that since I am well over a week into this blog and my first entry is now buried under text, links and photos, it may be a good idea to reintroduce myself. My name is Jason Krump, Communications Coordinator at the Washington State University Athletic Department. I have been traveling with the team and been blogging throughout the Cougars' run in the NCAA Tournament. Whether you are a return visitor, or if this is your first time visiting this site, thank you for your interest. It is greatly appreciated.

I said at the onset that my goal with this blog is simple: give you a perspective you won't find anywhere else, and hopefully be a little entertaining along the way. Hopefully, I achieved this during the first and second rounds and can continue it this week, and if all goes well, the next.

By the way, I'm always open to comments or questions. Just send them to my attention at athleticinfo@wsu.edu.

While I am an employee of WSU, I am also an alumnus and fan of this great university and it is in that vein that I write the following.

I wrote in an entry a couple of days ago from Denver that an amusement park was situated adjacent to the Pepsi Center. Looking at all the rides the park offers, the analogy was inescapable to me. I couldn't help but think that I am in the midst of taking an amazing ride, and I have the basketball team to thank for it.

I remember last year feeling emotionally drained after the double-overtime loss to Vanderbilt. The college basketball fan in me knew I had seen a tremendous basketball game (and as it turned out, it was the best game of the entire 2007 tournament). The Cougar fan in me was devastated that a trip to the Sweet 16, which had been so close, was not to be.

It's last year's feeling that makes the feeling experienced this year, yes, so much sweeter.

So Cougar fans, alumni, current students, and supporters: Strap in and get comfortable.

Let's enjoy the ride.

Go Cougs!

March 24, 2008

6 p.m.

One last post for the day then it's time to pack for the trip tomorrow.

Please check out the transcript from Matt Woodley's Online Chat he conducted just an hour ago.

Also, as in Denver, the Alumni Association will be holding a pregame rally in Charlotte. Click HERE for details.

That's it for today. I'll try to check in tomorrow before we leave.

4:20 p.m.

Coach Tony Bennett, Derrick and Kyle conducted a news conference before a packed house of reporters in the sports information conference room this afternoon.

He are are a couple of photos from the gathering:



During his conference, Tony, of course, talked about the upcoming game with North Carolina, and said that his three seniors - Derrick, Kyle, and Robbie - were playing at a very nice level right now.

He also said that the system that his father, Dick, and he implemented at WSU was designed to compete against the very best and they'll have that chance Thursday against the Tar Heels.

This will also be a homecoming of sorts for Tony, as he returns to the city where he played in the NBA. Bennett was a member of the Charlotte Hornets for three seasons from 1992 to 1995, calling that period a "special time" for him.

Tony mentioned two significant memories from his time in Charlotte: meeting his wife, Laurel, and his stretch with the Hornets, specifically, Alonzo Mourning's game-winning buzzer beater that propelled the Hornets to a win over the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the first round of the 1993 Eastern Conference playoffs. The play gave Charlotte the series win.

Tony was on the floor during the play and joked with the media that he had the Celtics' Dee Brown boxed out and was in perfect position to get the rebound.

Well, thanks to my assistant Kyle Descher, we have located the PLAY. Keep an eye on the Hornets' No. 25.

12:10 p.m.

Before we head to Charlotte tomorrow, I took advantage of some down time in Pullman to create this PHOTO GALLERY documenting last week. There are over 100 photos in this gallery so devote some time to view them. By the way, these are photos that Bob Hubner and myself took. You can tell which ones are Bob's, they're the good ones.

8:55 a.m.

Just a quick update that the Cougars' ticket allotment for the East Regional has sold out.

7:45 a.m.

Good Monday morning. Just a quick heads up that assistant coach Matt Woodley will be conducting an online chat this evening at 5 p.m. You can submit questions for Coach Woodley now by clicking HERE

March 23, 2008

7 p.m.

This is a lengthy entry, but I think it's worth the read.

First, a late Easter present for all of you: PHOTOS FROM THE NOTRE DAME WIN! Once again, photographer Bob Hubner put together quite a compilation of photos. I've included some for this page. Enjoy!




By the way, when viewing the gallery, you may notice a "Buy This Photo Now" button. That means just what it says. You may purchase the photo right there, hassle-free, because we have partnered with Pictopia.com and CSTV to offer Cougar fans the opportunity to purchase high-quality reprints of WSU Athletics photographs online. For details of this service please click HERE.

Tip time for our match-up with North Carolina has been set. We will tip at 7:27 p.m. Eastern Time, 4:27 p.m. Pacific. Our game will be the first of the session with Louisville-Tennessee the second.

One stat that jumps out at you is that in the first two tournament games, North Carolina has scored an average of 110.5 points a game while WSU has allowed an average of 40.5 points.

Finally, I've been hearing a lot of inquiries about the A.D.'s Fund for Basketball Excellence and how you can donate. You can read WSU Director of Athletics Jim Sterk latest A.D. Forum piece about the campaign HERE or if you just want to go straight to the donation page you may do so by clicking HERE.

1:20 p.m.

Happy Easter!

On this very special day, I'm sure I am like most Cougar fans and trying to decompress from the special day the team turned in yesterday.

We returned to Pullman around 1 a.m. earlier today and when we will be departing for Charlotte is still to be determined.

As a reminder, the ticket sales information for the East Regional has been posted on wsucougars.com. You can get details by clicking HERE.

Here are some links I was unable to post from last night. Read the Transcript from the postgame media session not only for Washington State, but Notre Dame as well.

Finally, today begins what will be an incredible week for Washington State University Athletics. It goes without saying that the Sweet Sixteen appearance by the men's basketball team is tremendous enough. Not to be overlooked, however, is the fact that WSU, along with the Spokane Arena, will host the 2008 NCAA Women's Basketball Spokane Regional on March 29 & 31.

If the regional next weekend is anything like the first women's regional WSU hosted seven years ago, then fans are in for a treat. The 2001 West Regional turned out to be an historic event in the annals of NCAA basketball history. Here is a Story that looks back as to why.

Have a great holiday.

March 22, 2008

8:15 p.m.

Here are some quotes from Kyle Weaver. We are about ready to head out to begin our journey back to Pullman. I'll be back tomorrow.

"I'm an all-purpose guy for this team. I'm depended on to score, rebound, and usually defend the opposing team's best player. Today, I was able to do all those things and we got the win."

"I'm not a very loud person, so I use hand signals, and other ways to lead my team. I'm not a very big vocal leader, but I try to let my play set an example."

"We think that we can run with anybody or play any style of basketball to win a game. It doesn't really matter who are next opponent is as long as we can prepare and execute our game plan."

8:05 p.m.

A couple of more photos I managed to take right after the game:



Following are some quick quotes from Tony Bennett:

"We knew coming in that our defense was going to be the key to us winning the game. We emphasized that to the guys and they were really ready and prepared for the challenge."

"The support from the fans was fantastic. Anytime you can play away from home and have any type of crowd support that usually works out in your advantage."

"Right now we are going to enjoy the moment and the win, but then we're going to begin preparing for our next game."

7:50 p.m.

Here are a few PHOTOS from our photographer Bob Hubner. Keep in mind, this is just a sample, there will be more to follow. Maybe not tonight, but I will get them posted.

7:40 p.m.
Here's a PHOTO GALLERY from Ryan McKee of NCAA Photos. Special thanks to him once again. Here is a sample:


7:25 p.m.

Okay, my only purpose from now to when we leave the arena is to get as many photos up as I can. Here we go...



6:47 p.m.

There is an amusment park that sits adjacent to the Pepsi Center. I find that quite fitting because this is one heck of a ride and it is going to continue to Charlotte. I have postgame duties to attend to but I'll post photos as soon as I can.

6:25 p.m.

That Low 3-pointer was huge...we seemed to have thwarted Notre Dame's rally. They got within seven at 38-31 but we have extended our lead to 17 points.

6:05 p.m.

At the first timeout of the second half. I was hopeful to receive some first half photos from the NCAA, but have received nothing yet. If I do, I'll post them as soon as I can. Weathered that early ND 3-pointer and have extended our lead to 16 (38-22).

5:45 p.m.

At the half...just learned from the Notre Dame SID that the 19 points scored by the Irish ties for the lowest first half point output under coach Mike Brey's tenure, which is in its eighth year. Over their last two halves of basketball, the second half against Withrop and the first half against Notre Dame, the Cougars have outscored their opponents 74-30.

5:31 p.m.

Nearing the half. Having problems staying connected to the web. I'm not the only one having problems in this building. The Notre Dame offense is as well. They are shooting at a 22.2 percent clip right now.

5:05 p.m.

Ever since 5-0 Notre Dame run to start the game, we've outscored the Irish 13-2. Low has six points already.

4:48 p.m.

Announcing starting line-ups. Players meet at center court and shake hands after being annouced.

4:42 p.m.

Both teams are out on the court. Can feel the excitment in the building as tip nears.

4:38 p.m.

Less than 10 minutes to tip. It's always cool to hear the fight song, but especially on a national stage like this. Seems to be a late arriving crowd, but they are starting to file in.

4:20 p.m.

I've taken my position on press row and the Cougars have just come out on the floor. We are sitting on the opposite bench than Thursday, but I am in the same position, as I am manning the CBS phone to take any possible postgame interview requests by the network. This means that I am sitting behind the Notre Dame bench.

Great.

3 p.m.

Good afternoon. I've arrived at the Pepsi Center and now am in a "hurry up and wait" mode until tip.

First, and most importantly, here are Jessica Schmick's Game Notes for today's game.

On my way over to the arena I stopped by Old Chicago, where another alumni pregame rally was taking place. Here's a picture:


Oh, and by the way, last night, I had dinner at ESPN Zone. Yeah, I know, so what, but this you may find noteworthy. I was in an area that included countless TVs including a huge high definition screen, I imagine as big as the one that will display the game at Beasley this afternoon.

What was rolling above the screen was a ticker that showed various sports facts and figures including WSU men's basketball information. The ticker rolled through Coach Bennett's coach of the year awards last year, the Cougars' past NCAA appearances and the 1917 National Championship Team. The '17 team also made an appearance several times when a listing of all the NCAA men's basketball national champions was displayed.

The closer we get to tip the more nervous I get...

8 a.m.

Good morning. The sun is shining in Denver this morning and at the end of the day, all Cougar fans are hoping fortunes will be shining on the Crimson and Gray.

An important link I wanted to share this morning. The ticket sales information for the East Regional has been posted on wsucougars.com. You can get details by clicking HERE.

March 21, 2008

5:20 p.m.

And one more photo from today, it is of Tony in the interview room. Yes, you've seen some semblance of this picture each of the past two days, so why break the trend?


A humorous footnote to the day...

After the locker room interview session finished, the coaches and team lingered for a few minutes before boarding the bus back to the hotel in order to watch the conclusion of the San Diego-Connecticut game, though it turned out to be only the conclusion of regulation. The team boarded the bus back to the hotel and got back in time to see the end of the overtime period in the hotel lobby along with countless Cougar fans who were watching as well.

Just goes to show that everyone is a fan this time a year.

3:30 p.m.

Here's a shot of the media scrum currently going on in the Cougars' locker room:



2:15 p.m.

I'm here in the media workroom at the Pepsi Center drinking a Coke. How's that for irony?

The four teams that won yesterday's games: Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Washington State conduct closed practice sessions today, and then will be available to the media afterward.

The Cougars are currently practicing and will be holding their interview session beginning at 3:10 p.m. By interviews I mean that two student-athletes will be available in the interview area for 20 minutes followed by Tony Bennett. During this time, the Cougars' locker room will be open to the media.

By a closed practice, I am referring to the fact that the media and the public are not allowed in the court area to watch. I am able to go to practice if I choose, but I see no reason as to why I need to, and I want to respect the closed nature of the practice.

I was hoping the media buffet would be up and running; however, that is closed today so I am not too happy about that, especially my stomach. By the way, yesterday's buffet included herb baked chicken and triple chocolate brownies. Good stuff.

I'll take a few pictures from the interviews and post them later today.

1:10 p.m.

As promised, here are the PHOTOS taken by Bob Hubner from last night. I included a couple on this page. There are over 30 photos in the gallery so enjoy!



9:30 a.m.

I'm sitting at a Starbucks in downtown Denver drinking my grande mocha on this Good Friday morning and reflecting on the Great Thursday for the Cougars. After thinking about that incredible second half turned in by WSU, I am reminded of a quote from then coach Kelvin Sampson in a postgame news conference following a loss during the 1993 season.

I was the men's basketball beat reporter for the Evergreen at the time, and while I forget the details of the game, I remember what Sampson said.

After fielding numerous questions, an exasperated Sampson finally said, "Guys, you are making this too complicated. This is a simple game. If the brown thing doesn't go in the round thing, you're not going to win any games."

While that's a unique way of describing the importance of making shots, looking at the teams' shooting percentages in that second half I see what he means. Simple game.

On a personal note, I am happy that I can finally say I saw a sporting event in Denver. Over 10 years ago I was here with my father and we were at Coors Field to see a Rockies game. However, thunderstorms roared in and dumped enough hail and rain that I thought we may be floating back to the hotel. Needless to say, the ballgame was rained out.

I'll conclude this post by showing a couple of photos of the "16th Street Mall" area of downtown Denver. This is a pedestrian avenue that covers one end of the city to the other. The mall has numerous shops and restaurants, and yes, several Starbucks.



One more item: The WSU-Notre Dame game will tip at 4:40 p.m. local time, 3:40 p.m. Pacific.

The team will conduct a closed practice at Pepsi Center today, and then will meet the media. And remember, I also will be posting Bob Hubner's game photos from last night. They will be worth the wait. I'll be checking in later.

March 20, 2008

11:30 p.m.

A couple of quick links before I call it a night. First, here are QUOTES from the postgame news conferences.

Be sure to check in tomorrow for more photos from tonight's win.

8:20 p.m.

Here are some PHOTOS of the second half by Ryan McKee of the NCAA.




8 p.m.

"A pretty complete half."

That is how Tony Bennett described the second half of the Cougars' 71-40 win over Winthrop.

I would say so.

Tied at 29 at the half, WSU outscored Winthrop 42-11 in the second half. The Cougars shot 65.4 percent (17-of-26 ) from the field in the half while holding the Eagles to 4-of-24 (16.7 percent) from the field.

Here are some quick quotes from Tony along with a couple of postgame photos:

On being tied at the half: "I stressed in the first half that we gave up too many uncontested lay-ups. We just didn't focus enough on defense. Also, we weren't able to pick up too many offensive rebounds and our offense stalled a bit."

On the winning margin of victory: "I thought we wore them down; we started to move the ball a bit better. Derrick Low hit some big shots. I thought we labored a bit in the first half."

More to come...

6:55 p.m.


A 25-4 run to start the second half. All I can say is: Wow!

6:35 p.m.

Here are some PHOTOS from the first half. Special thanks to Ryan McKee of the NCAA for sending these over to me.




6:17 p.m.

Nearing the end of the half...remember Cougar Nation that we were down to Oral Roberts by two at the half last year and won by 16. I have a feeling that the play culminating in Baynes dunking is there all night. He's 5-of-5 in the first half, and I think all of those buckets are either dunks or layups.

5:54 p.m.

I guess all I had to do was bring up the fact that we haven't made any 3-pointers...Rochestie just made one to give us a two-point lead at 23-21. At the final media timeout of the half.

5:47 p.m.


At the third media. The game is moving right along. Cougars are shooting 50 percent (8-of-16) but have no treys in the books yet, meanwhile Winthrop has manged to get a pair of 3-pointers down.

5:37 p.m.

At the second media and Winthrop is ahead 10-8. The arena has nearly filled up with the exception of the seating area for the Notre Dame fans. Our fans have been very vocal, especially when the officials make a call.

5:30 p.m.

We're at the first media timeout. I'm sitting right next to a stat monitor so I can keep track of what is going on. Right now, not much, but we're ahead and that is all that matters.

5:15 p.m.

The band is playing the fight song with the Cougar fans standing and singing along. Pretty cool.

5:10 p.m.

The Cougar band played the national anthem, both team shook hands at midcourt. There is a large Cougar contingent sitting in the stands. Seven minutes until tip.

5:05 p.m.

Both teams are out on the court and I've taken my seat.

The NCAA allows me to update five times per half and once at halftime. However, I figure with CBS, our radio broadcast with Bud Nameck, satellite radio and national radio, I don't think you'll be looking to this blog for game updates. So I don't know if I'll be using all of my allowed entries. We'll see how it goes.

I'm sitting right in front of the band and they are playing the Cougar Fight song and Tony Bennett and coaching staff has made their way out on the court. Only 13 minutes until tip.

4:30 p.m.

Have to love modern technology. Wireless internet is great, except when it doesn't work, which is why this entry is being posted a little later than I would like. Hopefully, this won't be a trend for the rest of the day.

Just returned from an Alumni Association Pregame rally at Old Chicago Restaurant, which is near the Pepsi Center. Myself and photographer Bob Hubner stopped by the rally and took some photos. As I said last night, he's the professional so I'm using a few of the photos he took for this entry. You can see them HERE

By the way, there was a great turnout for the event. Alumni Association President Al Powell, who lives in nearby Fort Collins, estimated that over 200 Cougars were in attendance. There were so many Cougars in fact, that the room wasn't large enough to accommodate them.

Nearing game time and can feel the anticipation starting to build.

1 p.m.

Good afternoon. I arrived at the Pepsi Center about a half an hour ago. By the way, being in the Pepsi Center, you would think they serve Pepsi in the media workroom area, but they serve Coke because they are a sponsor of the NCAA. Ah, the cola wars continue...

The workroom is buzzing right now as Michigan State just defeated Temple in the first game of the early session. Michigan State is in the interview area now, here's a picture of the session:


Pittsburgh-Oral Roberts will be tipping off shortly.

The Cougars-Winthrop game is the first game of the evening session, a 5:20 p.m. local time tip, 4:20 p.m. in Pullman.

I'm here for the duration. There will be plenty more posts to follow today.

March 19, 2008

11 p.m.

Time to wrap-up what has been a busy day.

Remember that Holiday Inn commercial? You know, the one that has the person saying I'm not a doctor but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night. Well, the photos I have posted previously were taken by me. As much as I like to think I have a talent for photography, I know my limitations, and I am not a professional photographer (and we are not staying at a Holiday Inn either).

But we do have a professional on the trip with us - Bob Hubner. Here are his PHOTOS from today's practice and media session. When you see Bob's photos you'll realize why he's the best and if you think these are good just wait until tomorrow.

With the exception of one photo, all are self-explanatory. The one photo that needs an explanation is the one of Tony Bennett signing a ball for the girl. I was not witness to this, but Bob relayed the account to me.

Apparently, the team bus was about to pull away from the Pepsi Center when many of the players and assistant coaches saw a little girl running up with a basketball wanting to have Tony sign it. When Tony realized this he asked that the bus be stopped. He got out and signed the ball, which Bob was able to take a picture of. Here it is:


To say the least, tomorrow is a big day. All Cougar fans have been looking forward to this since the selections were announced Sunday.

Until then...

5:30 p.m.

I hope you have enjoyed the photos. There will be more to come. In the meantime, to read a transcript from the news conference please click HERE. Be aware that this is a PDF file. This link is also on the NCAA TOURNAMENT CENTRAL page.

For those in Denver the alumni association is holding an event prior to tomorrow's game. Details can be found HERE

5 p.m.

Here is a PHOTO GALLERY from the ongoing practice session (at least I think it is still going, I have been sequestered in the media workroom for a while).

4:45 p.m.

Here's a photo from the ongoing practice session on the Pepsi Center court:


4:30 p.m.

Here is a quick PHOTO GALLERY from the WSU media session that just completed. The team is on the floor as I write. More photos to come later.

4:10 p.m.

Kyle and Derrick just concluded their news conference and Tony Bennett is currently on the podium. Here are a couple of quick snapshots:



More to follow shortly...

1:20 p.m.

Hello once again. I just returned from lunch.

For all of you who may be curious, some of the first questions anyone in the media business has when arriving at an event is where am I sitting, and where is the media buffet?

I have been fortunate in my career to work at numerous national sporting events. At these events I have dined at many a buffet...some good, some not so good.

After the lunch I just had, which included smoked pork chops and apple pie, I can say that the buffet at the Pepsi Center tops the list. Sorry, I digress. Okay, Jason, time to refocus.

Back to some links. Here's a feature from Erica Beck about the older brother connection on the Cougars.

Now for a trip down memory lane. The ultimate goal for the Cougars at this tournament is to win the national championship. If that happens, it will be the second in program history. Here's a story I wrote last year on the school's 1917 National Championship Team.

Also, last year at tournament time we did a series on the program's four previous trips to the NCAA Tournament prior to 2007.

We're just a couple hours away from the Cougars arrival to Pepsi Center. I'll be posting after their visit.

12:10 p.m.

Good afternoon (at least in Denver), or good morning to those in Pullman. I was in a meeting for the sports information directors at the Pepsi Center this morning, which is the reason I have not posted until now.

The Cougars will be practicing off-site prior to arriving at the Pepsi Center this afternoon for their public practice session as well as media interviews.

I thought you would like to see what the arena looks likes so here is a PHOTO GALLERY. I also wanted to give you an inside look at the media workroom and interview areas, so that is included in the gallery as well.

Hopefully this posts okay. Here is a photo of the court. This is a beautiful arena by the way.


I will be parked at the Pepsi Center for the duration so stayed tuned.

March 18, 2008

10 p.m.

I apologize for the lateness of this entry but without further delay here it is:

We were told that a snowstorm hit Denver yesterday, but you wouldn't know it judging by the weather today. Sunny skies and temperatures nearing the 60 degree mark is what welcomed us on our arrival to Denver.

I'm not egotistical enough to think that you are reading this blog to get my thoughts. You want to know what Tony Bennett is thinking so here are some quotes from my conversation with him after this afternoon's practice:

"We had a brisk, intense practice. It didn't seem like the altitude bothered the guys too much, but that's why we wanted to get here today and have a practice instead of practicing back in Pullman."

Bennett went on to say about the atmosphere surrounding the tournament:

"The anticipation is certainly there. It's something that you really work the whole season to get to. We've prepared to the best of our abilities. We know we are going against a good team and there is an excitement that is present."

And here is a quote from Kyle Weaver about today:

"I think it was a good day today; we got some good work in. We went hard in practice. Offensively we were in a pretty good flow. Guys made shots and everybody was on the same page. "

The charter plane departed Pullman at 10:45 a.m., and prior to takeoff the pilot said that the flight would take an hour and a half. True to his word, we touched down in Denver, well the Denver Airport (downtown is about 20 miles away from the airport), at 12:15 p.m. Pacific Time (1:15 local time).

A humorous tidbit from my conversation with Tony is that he said the big excitement was would the big charter plane be able to lift off before the end of the short runway at the Pullman Airport.

It did, and Bennett described the trip as "very smooth."

At 4:30, the team bussed to Colorado Christian University for practice. In what can only be interpreted as a good omen, the mascot for the university is Cougars.

Here is a PHOTO GALLERY from today's practice. One nugget from practice is at the gym, there is a fitness room set above the court. As the practice progressed, there were more students devoting time watching practice than to working out. You can see what I mean by one of the photos in the gallery.

That's what I have for today. Tomorrow will be a busy day as the team gets its first look at Pepsi Arena.

Until then, good night!

5:30 p.m.

Yes, I realize it is 4:30 in Pullman, but it's an hour later in Denver as we are in Mountain Time now. The trip down was uneventful (always a good thing) and the Cougars are currently practicing. Check back tonight for a recount of the day and more links.

7:30 a.m.

Well, traveling on an NCAA Tournament trip can be a fluid situation and no exception here. Instead of flying out of Lewiston, the team and travel party will be flying out of Pullman this morning, still scheduled at 10 o'clock.

Before we head out here's a quick link to men's basketball sports information director Jessica Schmick's news release

Next time I'll post, it will be in Denver.

March 17, 2008

5:30 p.m.

A couple more links to give you, then it's off to Denver tomorrow morning.

After practice at Beasley Coliseum this afternoon, assistant coach Matt Woodley took time out of his schedule to participate in an online chat. You can access the transcript by clicking HERE

Also, check out this feature story about the backcourt tandem of Derrick Low and Taylor Rochestie or, as Erica Beck's story explains, the duo that is better known as "Slice & Dice"

One brief aside from basketball ... here are some photos taken from the first Football Practice of the Paul Wulff era at WSU, as the Cougars began spring practice today.

Okay, time to pack for Denver. I'll be posting sometime tomorrow afternoon in the Mile High City.

1:30 p.m.

Okay, here is tomorrow's travel information. The team and travel party will be flying out of Lewiston at 10 a.m. and will be departing from the Bohler Athletic Complex on the WSU campus beginning at 7:40 a.m. The team is due to depart Bohler at 8:15 a.m.

Here are a couple of other NCAA-related links:

WSU Today ran a story with photos from yesterday's selection day event at Bohler Gym. That can be found HERE

Also, if you'd like to relive last year's run, check out the Tournament Central page from the 2007 event and also here is a pretty cool Slide Show

8 a.m.

Good Monday morning everyone and Happy St. Patrick's Day.

While you're enjoying a cup of coffee (or whatever beverage of your choice, I realize what day it is), here are a few quick links.

Before I get to the links just an update on tickets. WSU's allotment of tickets were sold out last night and there will be NO public sale this morning. As a reminder, WSU was allocated 550 tickets by the NCAA for the first and second round games, of which a substantial amount is allocated to the team guests and travel party, as well as corporate sponsor commitments. All remaining tickets were sold online yesterday and the opportunity to purchase tickets were based on a donor's Ticket Priority System (TPS) ranking.

For information on the Cougars' first round opponent, here is the link to Winthrop's athletic website

As I updated in last night's post, the NCAA TOURNAMENT CENTRAL page is now posted. Consider it your one-stop shop for information on the Cougars during the NCAA Tournament.

As a reminder, assistant coach Matt Woodley will be conducting an online chat this evening at 5 p.m. You can submit questions for Coach Woodley now by clicking HERE

Also, the A.D.'s Fund for Basketball Excellence campaign is tipping off again. You can read WSU Director of Athletics Jim Sterk latest A.D. Forum piece about the campaign HERE

Finally, and forgive me straying from basketball for a moment, but today is also significant in that it is the first day of spring football practice. Last week, Head Coach Paul Wulff conducted an online chat. You can access a transcript of the chat by clicking HERE

That's it for now. I'll be updating throughout the day so please check back.

Jason

March 16, 2008
UPDATE 8:45 p.m.
The Tournament Central website is now live:
NCAA TOURNAMENT CENTRAL

So the questions of where the Cougars are going, seeding earned, region placed at, and who their first round opponent will be have finally been answered: Denver, No.4, East, and Winthrop. Tip time for WSU-Winthrop has been set for 4:20 p.m. Pacific, Thursday.

Over the last week, ESPN's Bracketology had WSU at one time or another in D.C., Raleigh, Omaha and this morning in Little Rock. I don't remember Denver being mentioned at anytime over the last seven days.

With that question answered, those reading this probably have a couple questions of their own, such as: 1) Who am I? 2) Why am I here?

I guess introductions are in order. My name is Jason Krump, Communications Coordinator at the WSU Athletic Department. I am also an alumnus of WSU but I'm getting to the point where I'm not too keen on divulging my age, so I won't say what year I graduated (here's a hint - Bush was president, and a Clinton was running for his job...wow, things haven't changed much). Anyway, I'll be blogging at this link throughout the Cougars' run in the NCAA Tournament so be sure to bookmark it.

I'll be traveling with the team during the tournament and my goal with this blog is simple: give you a perspective you won't find anywhere else, and hopefully be a little entertaining along the way.

In addition to this blog, stay with wsucougars.com for the best information available on Cougar basketball by going to our NCAA Tournament Central page (link above), which has everything you need in order to get your Cougar Basketball fix.

In the meantime, be sure to visit our site at 5 p.m. tomorrow because assistant coach Matt Woodley will be conducting an online chat exclusively at wsucougars.com. Details can be found by clicking HERE

You can also check out a photo gallery from today's selection show by clicking HERE

Oh, by the way, I'm always open to comments or questions. Just send them to my attention at athleticinfo@wsu.edu.

Go Cougs!

Jason Krump

Washington State Cougars Men's Basketball